First-ever facility for young victims of sexual abuse opens in London

05 December 2018


  • ‘The Lighthouse’ offers medical, investigative and emotional support all under one roof – the first service of its kind in the UK
  • Sadiq Khan opened The Lighthouse today, following £8m investment from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, the Home Office, NHS England and the Department for Education
  • Pioneering integrated unit led by UCLH in partnership with The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Service
  • Service minimises the need for multiple interviews, aims to reduce time to trial, and will lead to faster recovery for children and young people.


The country’s first dedicated service for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse opened today in London.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, opened The Lighthouse in Camden, a pioneering facility led by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) which offers a full range of support services for children and their families from dedicated experts, all under one roof.


Young people who have experienced sexual abuse can now, for the first time, get full access to support from medical, policing and psychological experts all in one place, eliminating the need for victims to go through the trauma of repeating their statement several times to different agencies.


The Lighthouse will provide support for more than 500 young people each year from the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington as part of a two-year pilot. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has managed the delivery of the facility and is already working with partners to ensure funding will continue should the pilot prove a success.  


The new unit has been funded through £8 million of joint investment by MOPAC, the Home Office, NHS England and the DfE, with more than £1m additional funds from a partnership between Morgan Stanley and the NSPCC to support the delivery of therapeutic services. 


The Lighthouse - based on the Icelandic Barnahus (‘Child House’) and the American Child Advocacy Centre model - promotes a multi-agency approach that puts the health and wellbeing of the young person first. It provides early support after the trauma of abuse, increases the length of time support is provided to children and families, gathers more effective evidence from interviews and offers speedier progress in investigations and court cases.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Children who have experienced sexual abuse have already undergone a horrific ordeal - so it’s essential that we do everything we can to make their path to recovery and justice as simple as possible.

“This ground-breaking centre, The Lighthouse, brings together the NHS, social workers and the police in one place to make sure young people who have experienced sexual abuse get the support they need.”


Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said: “This Government is committed to doing all it can to tackling child sexual abuse and supporting young people who have to live with the scars of these horrific crimes for the rest of their lives.

“I am proud we can support The Lighthouse, which will ensure victims and their families have access to services in a safe and welcoming environment.”


The service was commissioned by NHS England in partnership with MOPAC. It is led by UCLH in partnership with The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, the NSPCC and the Metropolitan Police Service.


Emma Harewood, Development and Service Manager at The Lighthouse, said: “The Lighthouse provides a safe space for children and young people to talk about what has happened to them and to receive support and therapy to rebuild their lives. Our aim is for children to feel hopeful, reassured and listened to.”


Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London said: “As a practising paediatrician, I know how vital the Lighthouse will be to children and young people, it will provide them with a safe place to recover at their own pace and rebuild their lives. By putting all the care they need under one roof, young people and their families will be able to receive the justice, support and therapy they need and we are pleased to have helped establish such a vital service.”


Marcel Levi, chief executive, UCLH said: “The Lighthouse brings together a team with all the medical, psychological and support expertise needed. Working together we can make a positive difference to children’s and young people’s recovery from the trauma of sexual abuse.”


Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust has a long history of supporting young people who are victims of abuse and exploitation, and our clinicians will draw on this expertise to help these young people and their families to recover and move on in their lives. We’re delighted to be able to lend the expertise and experience of our clinicians to this innovative and much needed facility and support young victims’ recovery from sexual abuse by attending to their physical and emotional health as well as supporting them through any investigation and Court process.”


Peter Wanless, CEO, NSPCC said: “Bringing this concept to life in the UK is a landmark moment for the NSPCC and all those that advocated this way of working and who have come together to deliver ‘The Lighthouse’.


“The eyes of the nation will be on this project which is organised around the needs of young people that have suffered from the physical and emotional trauma of sexual abuse. It is an enlightened approach which we hope will flourish.


“We are hugely grateful to Morgan Stanley employees for the key contribution they have made to a facility that will transform countless lives and hopefully inspire many more Child Houses across the country. The need to organise help in a better way is urgent and compelling.”


Martin Hewitt, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, said: “It has been a pleasure to attend The Lighthouse today and to see first-hand the support and services that will be on offer to children across London.  It is projects like this that demonstrate the strength of partnership between enforcement, health and support services and how this can be of huge benefit to the young people in the capital.”


Clare Woodman, Head of Morgan Stanley EMEA said: “The Lighthouse is a truly transformational initiative and we are honoured to be supporting the project through our charity partnership with the NSPCC.


“The Morgan Stanley Therapeutic Suite will provide life-changing therapy for children recovering from abuse and I’d like to thank the NSPCC and Morgan Stanley employees for their incredible commitment in supporting the delivery of this ground-breaking project.”



Notes to editors

  1.  About The Lighthouse:

The Lighthouse is the UK’s first Child House. It has been funded by:

  • Home Office - £4,517,387
  • NHS England - £1,730,000
  • Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) - £1,250,000
  • Department for Education - £554,500


NHS England – in conjunction with MOPAC – has commissioned the health and wellbeing services which will be provided by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trusts, and NSPCC, supported by a £1.4 million donation from Morgan Stanley and its employees.


The Lighthouse concept is based on best practice learned from the USA and Scandinavia. In Iceland the ‘Barnahus’ model has been in place since 1998 using a child-friendly response to child sexual abuse (CSA) that is multiagency, interdisciplinary and all under one roof.


The model recognises the vulnerability of the child victim and the harm caused to the child by multiple interviews. The Barnahus in Iceland provides one place in which the child can have forensic interviews and make court statements, have medical examination and access therapeutic services, which are also available for the victim’s family. Since the Barnahus model was established in Iceland, the number of child victims of CSA coming forward for help has more than doubled per year, indictments have more than tripled, and convictions have more than doubled. The Barnahus model has since been exported to Norway, Greenland and Denmark, with pilots planned in Finland and Lithuania.


You can find out more about The Lighthouse here: